Dear Parent Coach,
We have a very musical kindergarten daughter who is chomping at the bit to start piano lessons. We do not have a piano, so this would be a big investment. We are unsure if this is too early, or if she would actually stick with it. What do you say?
Signed, Parents of a "Prodigy"
Dear Parents of a "Prodigy",
The decision to begin music lessons for a child is a big one, no matter what the instrument. The initial purchase of an instrument is required, as well as paying for weekly lessons. Parental oversight is necessary for success.
Learning to play an instrument demands a daily commitment to practice on the part of the child. If a child is too young to sit still and concentrate, the parent becomes the "practice monitor" which often causes stress between parent and child.
Having said this, the rewards of a child learning to play a musical instrument are great. The sound of Beethoven, Bach and Mozart floating throughout the house is wonderful. During the learning process, of course, patience is required by the entire family.
Piano is a great basic instrument for a child to begin with as it provides practice in reading musical notes, interpreting musical language and developing the discipline of practice. It sounds as though your daughter has natural musical inclination and talent and of course you'll want to encourage that.
An experienced piano teacher has suggested that starting a child on formal lessons too early may be counterproductive. She feels that a 5 year old is still adjusting to school and learning how to sit still. "Waiting a little longer until a child is ready, in second or third grade, will ensure a much more timely and successful experience in the long run."
My three daughters all began piano lessons in second grade. Two continued through high school and into college, both adding guitar, and one also played the harp. The other child switched to the flute. Our family enjoyed many musical events thru the years, and our home life was greatly enriched by their music. One daughter went on to get a graduate degree in Music Therapy.
When you think your daughter has developed the maturity and discipline to sit and practice, then she can move forward with your support and enthusiasm. Waiting a little longer to begin lessons, she will probably make rapid progress given her blooming talent and interest.
1. Assure your daughter that she can look forward to piano lessons in second grade.
2. You may want to purchase a portable keyboard so your daughter can enjoy creative play on her own in the meantime.
3. When formal lessons begin, rent a piano until you're sure of your daughter's commitment.
4. Ask your daughter to agree to a specific time she will practice each day.
5. Require your daughter to stick with lessons for at least 1 year.